Anne Waiguru, Sabina Chege and a host of other leaders at Embrace event in Murang'a
Anne Waiguru, Sabina Chege and a host of other leaders at Embrace event in Murang'a

Things got ugly at an Embrace rally in Murang’a on Friday after attendants booed leaders who were pushing the handshake and referendum agenda on behalf of President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.

Remarks by Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru, Murang’a Woman Representative Sabina Chege and Kigumo MP Wangari Mwaniki calling for total support of the handshake and an end to 2022 campaigns received hostile responses from the attendants with Sabina Chege bearing the brunt of the anger.

The residents heckled the leaders and chanted pro-Ruto slogans with several other leaders making attempts to calm them down, but in vain.

It took the intervention of Gender and Youth Affairs Chief Assistant Secretary Rachel Shebesh to restore calm as he assured the residents that President Uhuru Kenyatta respects Deputy President William Ruto and allayed fears of divisions between the two.

The Embrace movement, which was birthed following the March 9, 2018 handshake between Uhuru and Raila had initially been branded as a pro-cohesion group before metamorphosing into an all-out anti-Ruto group.

This has led to divisions within the country’s women leadership with a section of women forming a new pro-Ruto outfit dubbed Inua Mama Women Empowerment group led by Kirinyaga Woman Representative Purity Ngirici, her Laikipia counterpart Cate Waruguru, Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa, and Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika.

While the Embrace group, in their signature white and pink outfits, was castigating DP Ruto in Murang’a, the Inua Mama group donning maroon outfits was in Malindi drumming up support for Deputy President 2022 presidential bid.

Speaker after speaker hit out at the Embrace team accusing its leadership of hypocrisy and misuse of public funds to propagate their political interests at the expense of the common mwananchi.

They particularly hit out at CAS Shebesh for allegedly using money allocated for the empowerment of youth and women to organise Embrace rallies in different parts of the country with the intention of blocking Ruto from the presidency.

“The hypocrisy at the Embrace group is open for all to see. How can they say they embrace others yet they kicked me out of the party. All they are doing is backstabbing each other,” said Aisha Jumwa.

The division in the women body is a manifestation of existing differences of opinion between DP Ruto and President Uhuru which begun when Raila was included into government as an ex-officio member after the handshake. In recent past, several senior government officials including Cabinet Secretaries and Principal Secretaries have visited Raila in his office at Capitol Hill to consult on government policy matters.